Court orders SLC to reconsider officer’s firing based on a postmark

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SALT LAKE CITY — A state appeals court has ordered the city’s Civil Service Commission to reconsider a Salt Lake City Police Officer’s appeal of his firing over a postmark on an envelope.

In a ruling Friday, the Utah Court of Appeals said Officer Greg Hollenbach met the CSC’s deadline because his formal appeal was postmarked within the deadline — even though the letter itself was delivered after the deadline had passed.

“Because we conclude that when an appeal is mailed to the CSC, a post office cancellation mark establishes the date upon which the appeal was filed, we set aside the CSC’s decision and remand for further proceedings,” the court said in its ruling.

Hollenbach was discharged from SLCPD on Nov. 8, 2013 — but had until Nov. 18 to appeal. The Utah Court of Appeals said in its ruling that Hollenbach wrote a letter giving notice of his appeal on Nov. 11 and the envelope was postmarked the same date. But the postal service delivered it on Nov. 19, and the CSC refused to hear his case.

“We conclude the CSC erred in interpreting the term “filed” and therefore reverse its order determining that it lacked jurisdiction over Hollenbach’s appeal,” the court said.

Court records show Hollenbach is one of three officers with a pending federal lawsuit against Salt Lake City over his firing. He accuses them of retaliating against him because he was in union leadership by “stacking” complaints and charges against him as he was dealing with a child who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, as well as branding him a “racist.”

A trial in the lawsuit is scheduled for May 2017.

Read the Utah Court of Appeals ruling here: